Anyone from Saskatoon can tell you the city is filled with Ukrainian-Canadians that are proud to celebrate their culture at any moment.
That was certainly the case on Saturday as hundreds of people gathered at Rotary Park for the 16th annual Ukrainian Day in the Park celebration.
“I am really happy,” festival chair Yuriy Kirushok said of the crowd gathered on a chilly afternoon.
“It didn’t look promising, I have to be honest. It’s so nice to have all those people coming here.”
The music was blaring, the perogies were flying from the food huts and the dancers were present, even helping the youngsters learn a move or two.
That’s just part of the experience at Ukrainian Day in the Park.
Kirushok said the festival always lands on the Saturday after Ukrainian Independence Day.
Ukraine celebrated its 27th year of independence on Friday, a day widely celebrated across the province and country.
“It is very important for us, especially since Saskatchewan population has about 15 per cent Ukrainians that celebrate their country of origin,” Kirushok said.
“It’s great that Canada is the country that allows us to celebrate Ukrainian culture, which is an essential portion of Ukrainian culture.”
Adding to the need for celebration is the political circumstances arising in Ukraine in recent years. Kirushok said the Euromaidan movement of 2013 that quickly turned into an armed conflict in Ukraine’s Donbass region is far from conclusion.
“We have ongoing conflicts in eastern Ukraine and there are foreign troops on Ukrainian soil, so it’s even more important these days to have that pride in Ukrainian culture and celebrate it,” he said.
Kirushok warned that the festival isn’t just for Ukrainians. It prides itself on being able to celebrate Ukrainian culture with the masses that might not be exposed to it all the time.
“It’s a community event, put on by community members and volunteers,” he said. “We always welcome new volunteers.”
“If you want Ukrainian Day in the Park to exist, join us.”